A great big party was held last week in Austria for a great little airplane. At Zeltweg airbase, the Austrian air force celebrated 30 years of flying the Pilatus PC-7 trainer, made in next door Switzerland. Even more special, it has been 30 years without any serious accident whatsoever.A bit of Swiss and Austrian perfection right there.
In 1983, the first of a total of 16 PC-7s entered Austrian service. In 2012, four aircraft were sold but the remaining aircraft still fly day in day out, providing basic training, instrument training and tactical training for new pilots. At Zeltweg, it was said that the PC-7 can easily go on for another 20 years or so in Austria. Several avionics updates will take care of that.
During the celebration, a PC-7 in ‘Jubiläumslackierung’ (yeah, we like how that sounds) flew over the crowd, which included representatives of the Pilatus factory in Stans. What that Jubiläumslackierung looked like? Well, exactly like the one above.
F17 Wing of the Swedish Armed Forces at Ronneby in the southeastern province of Blekinge has started operations with an upgraded Saab SK60 advanced training last week. The new aircraft, with tail number 086, is designated SK 60AU or Avionics Update. But there is a bit more to that.
The SK 60AU for the first time has a GPS system plus other navigation aids to help the pilot navigate more precisely, a new radio with a sort of Bitching Betty function to warn the pilot for a flying altitude that is too low and sound effects that give the pilot the same warnings for failure or G-force stress as in the JAS 39 Gripen fighter jet.
The SK 60AU also has a new information system about altitude in feet, distance in nautical miles an speed in knots like in the Gripen and other western planes. The older SK 60s fly with the metric system with altitude in metres and speed in kilometres per hour, like the Russians do.
Saab Model 105, in Swedish service designated Skolflygplan 60, had its maiden flight already in 1963. About a 150 were delivered to the Swedish Air Force (Flygvapnet), where it serves since 1967. The Flygvapnet’s SK 60s fly with all wings, but the majority is based at F3 Malmslätt in Linköping to train future combat pilots.
40 aircraft of the type were delivered to the Austrian Air Force as Saab 105OE, where they still fly from Hörsching/Linz. Although generally unarmed, the Swedish SK 60 can be deployed with missiles on the wings.
From Russia with love the Moscow-based ViraZH ordered 79 Cessna 172 Skyhawk aircraft, confirmed the American company. It is one of the larger of such orders for aircraft that will be primarily used for training purposes at at various flight schools throughout western Russia. In Autumn 2014, when all planes have been delivered, ViraZH will have one of the largest fleets of Cessna Skyhawk 172 aircraft of the globe.
The 172 Skyhawk has become the best-selling, most-flown single-engine aircraft in the world. With an all-glass Garmin G1000 integrated flight deck, the Cessna 172 Skyhawk has apparently earned a reputation for offering a good combination of modern features and proven dependability among general aviation aircraft.
The Indian Navy received its first of 17 ordered BAE Systems Hawk Mk 132 on September 23, 2013. Therby India has become the third naval operator of the advanced training aircraft, after the Fleet Air Arm of the British Royal Navy and the US Navy with its own derivative McDonnell Douglas (Boeing) T-45 Goshawk. The Indian Air Force also has 40 of the new Hawks on order with the British manufacturer. The Indian Hawks are assembled in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).
The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) is getting rid of its twenty year old British Aerospace Hawk Mk67 aircraft, as ten of them showed up on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) register last week. The aircraft are reportedly owned by AirUSA in Nevada. The ROKAF is replacing these Hawks with indigenous developed and built T-50 Golden Hawk aircraft. AIRheads↑FLY visited South Korea years ago, the faboulous dish of kimchi being our main target. Oh, and we saw some of those Hawks as well.
Not only did the Koreans say goodbye to the Hawks, they did the very same to the thirty Northrop T-38A Talons that were leased from the US. In South Korea, these trainers also used Yecheon as their homebase. Over the last few years, the Talons returned stateside, where they returned flying in USAF service. Most of them are now operating from Holloman AFB, NM.
And what replaces both the Hawks and Talons is the Korea Aircraft Industries (KAI) T-50; a state of the art two-seater that is capable of supersonic speeds. The T-50 is flying in substantial numbers in South Korea now, and recently the first aircraft were delivered to Indonesia.